A big part of putting yourself into a trance of consistency is your stroking pattern during your warmup strokes. An entire book, Pleasures of Small Motions by Bob Fancher Ph.D. was written with this aspect of your game as being THE most important part of performance on the pool table. There is some merit to this.
If you take a look at video of Efren Reyes at various stages throughout his long career and pay attention to his pre-shot stroking pattern, you’ll notice how little variation there is in what he does as the years go by. Every top player develops their way of taking warmup strokes and that becomes very helpful or necessary in creating rhythm inside of their game.
The coordination of your eyes to the movement of your cue is very important and you ought to put some effort into finding a way of doing it that works for you. Once a player “gets in stroke” that also means that their arm and grip are warmed up along with their eye movement sequence as it relates to the warm up strokes and final delivery of the cue. If you do all of the previous components of your pre-shot routine, get your bridge set firmly, and THEN get into your stroking/eye movement pattern, your likely hood of success on any given shot will increase 10 fold.
There is no magical one correct way of organizing your practice strokes or some magical number of practice strokes for you to take, yet when you find one that does work for you, that becomes your magical result producing sequence. You might be in “dead punch” and only take one or two practice strokes every shot. This is possible with superior attention to detail in your shot set up process. Three, four, five, or six warmup strokes may be your magic number, or 15. Somewhere in the single digits should get the job done though, and it can vary a bit on shorter easier shots compared to longer tough shots.
One general guideline is to look at the cue ball as your cue tip is going into the cue ball, and look back at the object ball as you pull away from the cue ball. Then before your last backswing, lock your eyes up at the object ball and THEN start your last back swing and then deliver your actual stroke. There can be so much variation that I give this as a GUIDELINE, yet work on it, look at your favorite pros, and come to settle on something that works for you…
My grandpa always marveled at local players who ‘sawed too much wood” meaning just stayed down taking practice strokes forever before each shot. As you improve, your pattern should become more refined without the need to stay down forever on a shot. With the disciplined adherence to all the components of pre-shot routine, finding a good pace will find it’s way to you.
Good luck with that and see you soon…
If the pre shot routine is a sequence of events that you can repeat in order to generate consistency in your game, lets just say that securing your bridge is probably the most important event out of that sequence. As many pros as there are, there are that many styles of play, yet one thing that is not optional is having very well secured bridge onto the table and if you watch closely just HOW a pro will secure their bridge, you’ll notice that they do it very well is how. The moment that the bridge hand becomes secure is the moment you know a shot will soon be fired off. When you start to address the shots and table well with the bridge hand, your quality of shot results will surely have taken a quantum leap as well. A pool player will ever only be as good as their bridge will allow them to become.
This makes this step in the sequence of prime importance. A good analogy would be to that of a rock climber. Imagine you are 1,000 feet off the ground on the vertical face of a granite cliff and your only way out is up. You reach upwards feeling around for a suitable hand hold on which to grab so you can pull yourself up and free your other hand to look for a new hand hold and continue the process. Knowing that your life depends on each hand hold, you will surely make sure that you have a great grip each time you decide on a hand hold. Grip first, then continue.
The same is true in pool (most players just do not know this). First secure your bridge in place, and then begin your practice strokes and finally deliver the cue (while holding the bridge). Holding on to a cliff is not so easily forgotton when your life is on the line, but what about on the pool table. Yep that’s right… most players are letting go too soon, the equivalent of dropping off the rock face without a parachute.
The payment for such bridge hand infractions is not nearly as costly as dropping off a cliff… but missing a lot may as well be dropping of a cliff if you are hoping to improve and maintain a high level of skill on the pool table.
Add this most important aspect of your pre-shot routine into your game and trust me you will begin to dominate your current pool world, even if it is just you and the table. You’ll be beating that table more often than not now. Or if you do compete, winning will become a routine matter of fact in your daily reality. Deny yourself this step in the sequence and you may find yourself swimming in a school of chum for a long time yet to come. The choice is yours… Be the comfortable shark that swims around and eats what it wants. Secure your bridge hand by matter of routine, and keep it secure.
Thanks and see you soon…
PS: If you want to master the game with ongoing training for less than the price of a brewed coffee per day… check out ProPoolAcademy.com
Going through the elements of your pre-shot routine in pool does not have to look like 1 then 2 then 3 then 4…
It could be more like take care of 1 and 2 while setting up for 3 and 4, then handle 5 while maintaining and solidifying the previous steps.
So while you plan your shot (pre-pre-shot) you could be getting a feel of your grip and chalking the cue. Then as you get your foot set up on the stroking line, you could be getting your bridge ready. Then as you step into the shot, you could solidify the bridge onto the table that was already pre-prepared, and so making it solid is that much easier.
Each element of your pre-shot routine should be given thought and practice, and mastered. They will become as notes in a composers piece, and the composer is you. Add your own style to the way you get into the shot, add your own flair to the way you do things. Or look boring, it’s up to you as long as you start to get the job done on the pool table with consistency. Think of the stroking line as the melody, and all the elements of your pre-shot routine are the notes within that melody. Hit your notes cleanly and you can make music on the pool table. Play out of tune or just make noise …and you may be forced to listen to your opponents music more than you’d like. The challenge and choice is yours.
Set all of this up out of your creative mind. Know how good you want to be and take the steps to find the mastery you will need. Let the wins come out of your excellence and the visions of yourself winning that you can create in your mind. The more you can imagine yourself as a winning player, the more your automatic success mode will take over and demonstrate the form that you have developed in practice when you need it in competition.
Every ounce of effort you put into becoming a consistent player will pay off in a winning percentage, and the game becomes more fun when you feel like you can handle any shot, most or all of the time.
See you soon…
PS: To save years of time and countless dollars in learning how to play like a pro, click on the logo below…
A couple days ago I talked about the importance of footwork in your pre-shot routine in playing pool. I mentioned that you can get your back foot positioned (on the stroking line and the correct distance from the cue ball) so that you can then get into your stance. Also the importance of clear thinking on what you want before getting into your stance.
Before moving forward, I want to suggest that you do have a few options when it comes to your stance setup footwork. Many people when asked, don’t even know what they do with their feet to set up, they just do it naturally. This can be good especially if they’ve practiced hard to make shots, and now this unconscious footwork works for them as an automatic success system. However, putting more effort and attention can help greatly improve consistency in shot making and cue ball control.
Here are 4 major options of footwork you can choose:
- Position your back foot on the stroking line in the location where it will be during your stance, so that you can simply step forward with your front foot and as soon as the front foot lands your body and bridge hand then follow and your stance if formed.
- Position your back foot, then step forward with your front foot and get both feet set, pause, and then descend onto the table with your bridge hand.
- Stand a little closer to the shot with your front foot in place and then step backwards putting your rear foot in place last, and then descend into your stance.
- Stand in the middle of where your feet will be, step your front foot forward into place, and then step backwards into place with your back foot and descend into place.
- Some type of variation of the above styles.
There is no one “right” or only way to do this (there are many wrong ways however). What is true is that what you choose does need to work for you and become automatic in a success serving way to your game.
Pay attention to your stance setting up footwork and start to purposefully set up your feet in a way that improves your consistency. After a while, things which seem hard to you now will become quite easy when you map out a success sequence in your pre-shot routine and learn how to plug it into your shots over and over again.
Thanks and see you soon…
“Reigning World Derby City 10-Foot Table 14.1 Champion”
PS: I will be covering all of these in a detailed video series inside of the Pro Pool Academy and have extensively inside of the Powerful Pool DVD Set.
This is CONSISTENCY month. January 2014, and this week is PRE-SHOT ROUTINE week.
First I’ve covered setting up your feet and chalking the cue as part of your routine.
Ok lets back up a little bit first. Before you can position your feet or your back foot onto the stroking line, you must find and get your eyes squarely “ON” the stroking line. That step needs to become the foundation of all your shots and all elements of your pre-shot routine, at least once you get into the set up phase.
The step of getting the eyes on the stroking line first (before getting down into the stance) sounds so obvious, yet too often I see players NOT finding the line first, and so their entire shot making process begins with little hope of success. Luck and ability/talent to compensate become their crutch or best hope.
You need to organize every stance set up for every shot, AROUND THE DISTINCT VISUAL CONFIRMATION OF THE STROKING LINE. Let me repeat, you need to organize every single shot/stance set up, AROUND THE DISTINCT VISUAL CONFIRMATION OF THE STROKING LINE. What does that really mean? Don’t get down to shoot a shot until you stand on and see the line you want to shoot down.
So the key element of your pre-shot routine is to find and look down the stroking line. If you can add this to your game, almost any sequence of events after that will produce a much greater measure of CONSISTENT success for you on the pool table, for years to come.
ABOVE: This is (the yellow line) standing ON and looking down the stroking line (the line you will hit the cue ball down)
ABOVE: The green grassy line here is the stroking line. This is NOT standing on or looking down the line.
ABOVE: You are the airplane that lands on the stroking line.
ABOVE: Not a good looking landing! Don’t start landing until you are lined up with the runway. So simple yet so powerful. Organize your stance around this line as you stay focused on it.
Ok well try to prove me wrong by NOT getting on the stroking line before you get down into your stance, and report back to me how that turned out for you.
Basically get behind the cue ball facing in the direction you want to shoot, and then refine the accuracy of that so that you can get down and make a shot successfully.
See you soon…
PS: If you want to master the game 1000 times faster and $500,000 cheaper than it would take by googling what you want and traveling the globe searching for answers and playing the top 100 players in the world and asking them questions… skip all that and get to improving fast by joining PROPOOLACADEMY.COM here….
Chalking your cue not only has an important physical function to playing the game, it serves as an important element in your pre-shot routine that contributes to your consistency as a player. Chalking is a ritual that helps with your success on the table. It has a place in the sequence in the way you get into your stance / shots and therefore deserves your attention. For starters begin to pay attention to how and when you chalk the cue. Notice if your chalking frequency and technique changes depending on what is happening on the table or in a match. See if you can notice a rhythm about the way you chalk when you are playing well and try to duplicate it or recreate it all the time.
Also if you don’t have a personal chalk, how neat are you with the chalk on the table? Do you lay it down upside down allowing everything around you to get filthy? Or do you have more respect for the game than that, I hope so. I may be a personal pet peeve of mine about players who are really sloppy with the chalk but those guys tend not to beat anyone. Don’t be one of them if you want to be a champion.
Look at how snooker pros all carry their own chalk and it is a part of their pre-shot routine. The table stays clean and the game moves faster. Plus you don’t have to go hunting for chalk constantly have to be moving it out of the way…
Instead of making chalking just something that must be done, incorporate it into your shot routine so that it contributes to your success! And keep it neat and clean just like your cue ball control ought to be.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
See you soon…
The pre-shot routine is a much talked and written about phenomenon in the game of golf, and as important as it is in golf, it is in playing pool.
An effective pre-shot routine leads to consistency in your game and successful results over and over again. There are plenty of items on your physical checklist to take care of in a short amount of time and if you’ll need a solid mental pre-shot routine as well, to keep you focused on the task at hand which is getting both the object ball and cue ball to go and land where you want.
Clear thinking presides over all of it. Know with clarity what you are working to accomplish on every shot. That being said, build in clear thinking to your routine. This could be classified as (pre)-pre-shot routine. Thinking over your strategy, even if it’s just a visual glance of the table to see the pattern so that you know with confidence what your first shot will be, is critical to winning pool matches consistently, and against tough opponents. To keep them in the chair, get clear on your game strategy.
Once you’ve decided on a shot, know get clear on that shot. You’ll never be a great position player if you don’t pick out where exactly you want the cue ball to land. You’ll also have a slower time adjusting to table conditions if your targets are hazy at best.
Now that you know what you are planning to do with clarity, it’s time to get set up. This is the beginning of the real pre-shot routine, and it begins with your feet. In particular your back foot. You’ve got to be aware of your back foot and it’s position in relation to your shot. This helps set up your stance for the entire shot. Both feet are really involved so lets call this your foot work. Good foot work is essential in playing top level pool. Most people do this on auto pilot and it works for them. Even pros do it on auto pilot. The difference is that a top pro has put thought and time into making their foot work as good as possible so that their automatic mode happens to be awesome, by design, and conducive to playing consistent run out pool.
The best foot work out there can only be guided by the best planning or visualization for the shot. Keep that in mind. What you want to do is set up your feet at the proper distance from the cue ball on every shot, so that the rest of your pre-shot routine can flow in proper sequence and order. So start to think about the spacing between your feet and the cue ball, and focus on setting that up properly before each shot.
Enjoy and see how that awareness helps your consistency in playing pool!
See you soon…
PS: I do cover how to set up your feet in more detail in powerful pool which is available as online videos to watch or download for members of propoolacademy.com or for anyone to order as a physical dvd set.
My friend and fellow pro/instructor CJ WILEY, just released this long awaited documentary!
You can order directly from me on this page.
This is the story of what happened behind the scenes of the Million Dollar Challenge.
With one million dollars on the line, on April 10, 1996 Earl “the Pearl” Strickland did the unimaginable. He ran 11 racks of 9-ball at the inaugural event of the PCA Pro Pocket Billiards Tour. While it was a miraculous feat, it simultaneously dealt a fatal blow to the new Pro Pocket Billiards Tour and gave a death strike to what might have been the rise of televised table pool as a mainstream sport. CJ Wiley had spent years preparing a new tour to showcase the sport, using a million dollar prize as the main draw. His goal was to breakout pool as a mainstream sport.
Through an in depth interview you will hear how Earl trained to achieve this incredible level of performance, the legal battles that eventually vindicated CJ Wiley, and accounts of the following two-plus years to honor the prize through the accounts of CJ Wiley, Tournament Director Jay Helfert and many more. It is a tale of struggle for the game and a telling of the greatest achievement in the history of pool.
Directed by Mary Avina
(click image to enlarge)
Investment to own this episode of Pro Pool History:
$24.94 (includes shipping)
Outside of USA?
$39.95 (includes shipping)
Thanks and see you soon…
below is a pic of me at the 1996 Dallas Million Dollar Challenge where I placed 4th.
I was able to capture Shane VanBoening “SVB” shortly after he won his 3rd US Open 9-Ball Championship, practicing at Best Billiards LV in Las Vegas… Here is what he was working on.
Here is a break and run in 15-Ball Rotation in practice recently… (that’s why the cue ball foul late in the rack does not count